Editorial (March 19, 2018) – Taylor Hunter drills a diagonal ball out of the back with pinpoint accuracy. Saeed Robinson pulls it out of the air and is down the line in one fluid movement. He curls a cross to the back-post where an onrushing Marty Maybin connects despite the defender on his back, narrowly flashing the ball over the crossbar. Feels like 2015 doesn’t it? But it’s not, its Colorado Springs Switchbacks circa 2018.
2018 Colorado Springs Switchbacks: Everything New is Old Again
The Switchbacks have overhauled their roster this season. Despite having arguably the most talented group of players in the clubs history last year, what they didn’t have was a team. The balance was off. Friction, fractures, and fights were well documented during a tumultuous 2017 campaign that ended with the Switchbacks missing out on play-off soccer for the first time in franchise history. But all of that is history – so to the future.
How would the organization, the coaches, and those few players invited back this year respond? Judging by Saturday’s season opener, the answer is admirably. It obvious when looking at this years’ roster that balance and blend was very much order of the day. Well that, and grit and grind. The Switchbacks used to take pride in their blue-collar identity. It was all we ever heard in their inaugural 2015 season.
In 2016 it was more of the same, but with a slight bent toward a little more flair. In 2017 the organization leant all the way in to that new ideal, signing up technically top-drawer players, a laudable effort with ultimately disastrous consequences – and I’m not just talking about league position. 2017 was the year the Switchbacks lost their identity, something of far greater concern than stats.
The players collectively didn’t appear to share a team objective, or at least agree on how to attain one, with unhelpful cliques developing in the process. The coaches cut a frustrated group with a roster, by their own admission, too young and inexperienced. This issue manifest itself most obviously in the lack of leadership throughout the field. The team looked rudderless on those occasions when strong and seasoned direction was needed most.
So then to the 2018 Switchbacks, who look an altogether different animal. The players retained were, by and large, the more experienced pros. Add to that the new additions such as Steward Ceus, Jamal Jack and Jordan Schweitzer, players who have already demonstrated their maturity and ‘team-first’ attitude. And then there are the returning players.
Coach Trittschuh during an interview with local radio towards the end of last season bemoaned the fact that the team lacked the right attitude last year, the right work ethic, the right mentality. And when he called out a few players the ilk of which the team has missed, he mentioned Marty Maybin. Maybin took to the field in Switchbacks colors again on Saturday, and with him the returning Saeed Robinson and Taylor Hunter.
All three players, having shown their quality on their first go-around with the team, were welcomed back to Colorado Springs with open arms by the fans.
All three played a part in the Switchbacks convincing 2-0 victory over LA Galaxy II, as did every player who took to Weidner Field. More impressive than the win, was the way that the three component parts of this years’ roster appeared to blend so quickly – the retained, the new, and the returning. The Switchbacks played with heart, honesty, and togetherness. They played like they were several games in to the schedule already, not making their season debut. In short, the Switchbacks looked like a team again.